Afghanistan: Not less than 7 British residents and 1 American are being held by the Taliban

No formal fees seem to have been lodged in opposition to the detained males. They embrace seven British residents together with one who’s an American authorized resident and one US citizen, in response to the sources with direct information of the matter in Afghanistan, the USA, and the UK.

The rationale for every particular detention is unclear, and they aren’t thought all to be associated.

Jouvenal’s detention was confirmed by his household and pals to CNN.

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“Peter Jouvenal’s pals are deeply involved for his security following his detention by the authorities in Afghanistan in early December. A British/German dual-national, Peter has been travelling to Afghanistan for greater than forty years, as freelance cameraman, businessman and investor,” his household stated in a press release. “He’s a Muslim, is aware of Afghanistan higher than most foreigners, is married to an Afghan (they’ve three daughters), and speaks each major languages. He’s being held with out cost, and with no freedom to contact his household or legal professionals.”

The household additionally stated that they believed his detention might have been an error and famous that he has well being problems which make his detention extra harmful.

“Peter’s household and pals consider that he might have been detained in error, as he was in Afghanistan to debate investments in Afghanistan’s mining business in addition to conducting household enterprise. Earlier than his arrest, he was working overtly and had frequent conferences with senior Taliban officers. We urgently request that the Afghan authorities launch Peter,” the household stated. “He suffers from hypertension and wishes treatment. There’s a excessive risk of COVID an infection within the Afghan jail system.”

The spouse of North, Natalia Antelava, additionally confirmed to CNN her husband has been detained.

“Thanks everybody to your messages. Andrew was in Kabul working for the UNHCR attempting to assist the individuals of Afghanistan,” Antelava tweeted Friday. “We’re extraordinarily involved for his security & name on anybody with affect to assist safe his launch.”
North was in Afghanistan on project for the United Nations’ refugee company (UNHCR) and the UN company tweeted concerning the scenario on Friday.

“We’re doing our utmost to resolve the scenario, in coordination with others. We are going to make no additional remark given the character of the scenario,” the assertion stated.

Escalation by the Taliban

The detentions come at a fragile time for the Biden administration which faces a significant international coverage disaster in Ukraine. President Joe Biden withdrew all US troops from Afghanistan six months in the past, which paved the way in which for the Taliban to take over the nation.

The detentions additionally mark a pointy escalation of Taliban actions in opposition to Westerners residing in Afghanistan and are available at a fragile second in US-Taliban relations. For the reason that group swept again into energy because the US army withdrew final August, it has been searching for recognition as Afghanistan’s reliable authorities.

Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the US Nationwide Safety Council, known as the detentions “unacceptable” and stated the US has been contact with the Taliban because it urges the group to launch the Westerners.

“It is fully unacceptable for the Taliban to carry hostage human beings, and fully antithetical to their purported aspiration to be considered as a reliable actor on the world stage. Via direct and oblique communications with the Taliban, we’ve urged the discharge of any and all people who’re unjustly being held by the Taliban and their proxies. Resulting from privateness, security, and operational issues, we’ve no additional remark at the moment,” Horne stated.

Seven of the boys have been arrested in Kabul in December in separate incidents, they usually have been detained for the previous two months, the sources advised CNN.

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The Taliban haven’t publicly stated that they’re holding the boys, though they did permit a senior Qatari official to go to a number of the detainees in Kabul in mid-January. The Qatari official noticed no indicators of apparent mistreatment of the boys, the sources advised CNN.

The Taliban and Qatari authorities didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

A senior British official additionally visited a number of the males in jail this month, two sources advised CNN. The detainees should not all being held collectively, sources inform CNN.

The UK authorities didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Situations in Afghan jails are spartan, particularly through the chilly Kabul winters, and the unfold of Covid-19 within the nation is worrying the households of the detained males.

From 2002, Jouvenal was the proprietor of the Gandamack Lodge resort in Kabul, which was the important thing resort utilized by journalists who have been overlaying the Afghan Conflict, till it was closed in 2014.

Jouvenal additionally filmed the primary tv interview with Osama bin Laden in 1997 for CNN.

In the course of the warfare in opposition to the Soviets, at nice private threat, Jouvenal traveled into Afghanistan greater than 70 instances to movie the battle for a wide range of Western information organizations, one of many few Western journalists to take action.

The final time that the Taliban have been in energy in Afghanistan, earlier than 9/11, Jouvenal maintained a home in Kabul, and over time he has repeatedly met with Taliban leaders.

Senior US and British officers have been working collectively to try to resolve the matter.

Qatari officers who’re in frequent contact with the Taliban — as the protective energy of the US within the nation — have mentioned the difficulty with Taliban officers. For the final 5 weeks CNN has withheld reporting concerning the western prisoners held by the Taliban as diplomatic efforts by American, British and Qatari officers have continued to try to safe their launch resulting from sensitivities round these efforts which haven’t been profitable.

The Westerners are being held by the Intelligence Directorate of the Taliban in Kabul, in response to sources accustomed to the circumstances. The intelligence service is directed by Abdul Haq Wasiq, who was held on the Guantanamo jail camp for 12 years till he was launched in 2014 in a prisoner swap for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was being held by the Taliban.

Negotiating with the Taliban presents an enormous problem

Because the US army and diplomats accomplished their withdrawal from Kabul in August, they labored alongside the Taliban to facilitate the chaotic evacuation of foreigners and Afghans from the nation. For the reason that withdrawal, there have been common communications between US officers and the Taliban, however the trajectory of the connection stays unclear.

As of earlier this yr, there have been about 80 Individuals who needed to depart Afghanistan however couldn’t as a result of evacuation flights haven’t been leaving the nation commonly. Final month a flight chartered by the US authorities left Kabul, which marked the primary evacuation departure since November, in response to two sources accustomed to the matter.

The Taliban Haqqani community additionally continues to carry US contractor Mark Frerichs, who was kidnapped two years in the past whereas he was doing development work in Afghanistan earlier than the Taliban had seized your entire nation in August.

No international nation has acknowledged the Taliban because the reliable authorities of Afghanistan, and so the Taliban crave any contacts with Western officers during which they’re handled because the de facto authorities.

The US has made it clear that the Taliban should change their methods earlier than being given any formal recognition.

The US gave $308 million of humanitarian help to Afghanistan in January, to help the Afghan people who find themselves dealing with a rising humanitarian disaster.
And Biden signed an govt order Friday permitting $7 billion in frozen belongings from Afghanistan’s central financial institution to be distributed for humanitarian help within the nation and to victims of the September 11 terror assaults, senior administration officers confirmed.

The funds, held within the US, have been frozen following the collapse of the central authorities in Kabul in August. Half the remaining belongings — $3.5 billion — will go towards offering aid contained in the nation, the place fears of mass hunger have taken maintain within the months for the reason that Taliban took over.

The Taliban desires this help to proceed as a result of tens of millions of Afghans face the prospect of hunger this winter. However the Taliban additionally need different types of help from the worldwide group.

The diplomatic efforts to free the westerners are sophisticated by the actual fact there are completely different factions inside the Taliban. They’re: the Haqqani Community which is the strongest faction militarily; the “Doha Taliban” which is probably the most pragmatic group; and the “Kandahar Taliban,” named after the area in southern Afghanistan the place the Taliban originated within the early 1990s.

These factions continuously disagree on coverage issues, in response to senior Qatari officers who facilitated the talks in Doha between the USA and the Taliban that resulted in all American troops being pulled out of Afghanistan in August.

Greater than half of the members of the Taliban cupboard who have been appointed in September are the topic of UN sanctions, in response to Edmund Fitton-Brown, who coordinates the monitoring of Taliban sanctions on the UN.

The Taliban’s appearing inside minister is Sirajuddin Haqqani. His job is the equal of working the USA Division of Homeland Safety and the FBI. Final yr the United Nations reported that Haqqani “is a member of the broader Al-Qaida management.” Haqqani can be on the FBI’s most-wanted record, which has a $5 million reward for data resulting in his arrest, whereas the US State Division has a $10 million reward.

This story has been up to date with extra data.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh contributed reporting.

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